perpetuating the ugly duckling in brand and product consumption.
The story Ugly Duckling is a tale of seclusion and reclusion, repudiation, omission from an order, and then, after a length of suffering, acceptance by a species post biological beauty makeover.
In toto, it parallels human growth via a sars-free bird, in Amsterdam.
First we’re born under the veneer of a wrinkly, puffy alien. Then, in adolescence, we’re awkwardly bamboozled by geysers of hormones. Eventually, after many rights of passage, our attractiveness is consummated in biological refinement and intellectual autonomy: our hormones stabilize and we make self-affirming decisions outside of our former, cozy cul-de-sac… (I.e., The collegiate phase. College was an incredibly emancipating period of time folding anarchy and naptime into a four-year golden-age of meritocracy.)
Brands & products and Fuglosumption:
Once ugly, always ugly: there’s not a life stage to free an ugly product from the Hades of brand adolescence. And, unlike humans, it can’t graduate to a new shelf on a new isle, embodying a better aesthetic or utilitarianism.
There are products whose ugliness can never be concealed by a brilliant, sexy advertising campaign. Crocs and Uggs, for example, are hideous. It’s not attractive to wear shoes resembling Australia’s indigenous critters: our physique’s nadir should never appear reptilian or marsupial.
Uggs resurfaced in the early ’00 decade, the brand’s longevity remains intact. They are a fusion of snow boot and slipper, allowing women to hop around the urban wild, attracting spots of mud and dirty snow to offset the lightly-hued brown suede. And the uncanny shape is a kangaroo’s foot.
The premiere Croc is a garden clog that is part aqueduct, part masseuse. Water filters through the holes and seeps out the heel of the shoe and back into the water table, to preclude foot fungus and pruney toes. Spikes at the foot’s base massage your feet as you move. Unfortunate popular demand has impelled the creation of other clog styles: i.e., you can now don fossilized jelly wedges or heels. And to not omit snowbirds, Crocs designed a line of garden clogs that are lined in fleece—perhaps for nitrous oxidizing your garden, in the winter.
Fit-Flops are another beast, utilizing an enormous, chunky heel to work-out leg muscles whilst ambulating. The prime audience for FitFlops is over 40. Paradoxically, the advertising campaigns feature nubile female legs—free of vices like wrinkles, cellulite or varicose veins that plague older women’s physiques. And despite the ad campaign’s attempt at sexual appeal, the shoe is still ugly, fashioned in the shape of a 1980 station wagon (at least they omitted the wood paneling).
Claiming comfort isn’t a viable excuse—Birkenstocks are very comfortable, but they neither resemble a beer pint nor a pretzel. Sketchers and Steve Madden produce the Titanic shoe—a large boat that should sink but is somehow viable and profitable by keeping median-income audiences afloat.
Lesson learned: Kitsch and shapeshifting aren’t synonymous characteristics that can converge in sustainable and attractive product design. Make something that at least exudes an aesthetical appeal, congruent to the brand’s integrity, if it’s supposed to have a long shelf life.
(Side note: It would seem eminently sensible if Sarah Palin produced an Alaskan wedge heel made from and shaped like an Elk’s hoof.)
Cadillac finally redesigned the physical aesthetic of its cars, yet still looks like a geriatric mobile: the upgraded look now appealing to aging baby boomers. It’s a non-aerodynamic, square shoe-box of a car. If driving a Cadillac is a pre-requisite to: A, driving to Florida, and; B, toting golf clubs, then they should legalize golf carts on the Interstate—simply, it’s a fusion between a motorcycle and Smart Car (both of which are allowed on highways and interstates).
Speaking of shoe boxes, attractive SUVs don’t exist. Even the luxury car industry hasn’t produced an attractive SUV. Hummers are simply unnecessary: driving laws don’t allow ambush via vehicle, or driving up an embankment to exit an interstate. (More golf carts, less hummers.) More specifically, Hummers are legos on wheels. And if people get to ride in legos, then I want my own Taun Taun. Porsche, BMW, Mercedes, and others, all produced a line of SUVs that look like footwear for mountain climbing.
The logos and branding for these companies are lovely, and perhaps that’s what we sometimes pay for—the delusion that a trendy product embodies a brand’s integrity, but whose utilitarianism is actually defunct.
We already have sleeping bags, so why do you need to wear your blanket? At best, you’ll resemble a fleece-encrusted slug. The one benefit yielded by snuggie’dom is the snuggie sutra—the kama sutra illustrated with a snuggie.
The aesthetic of a product adds investible value to it. It offers the cushion of future transactions, such as collecting, refurbishing and reselling. Does anyone recall the beanie babies fad? It’s inane to think people, mostly adults, thought cheap, fleece dolls would transition to a high-end collectible commodity. I was given them as stocking stuffers and subsequently stuffed them at the bottom of my closet. The fad lasted for how long—a year or two—before it was silenced by the concomitant embarrassment of owning a collection of miniature stuffed animals.
My tone is sometimes snarky throughout this blog, but I’m generally amazed at the excessive waste flooding consumer products. I mostly bitch about superfluous holiday paraphernalia—the puffy-painted santa sweaters, tinsel banners, Rudolph slippers, valentines packaging, holiday candies, etc, that do nothing but hopefully boost sales over the expected seasonal profit margin. The marketplace is cluttered with goofishly deisgned products, as some of the aforementioned, that are mere fads—thus automatically having a defunct sustainability. Simply, it’s immediate waste—how many products do you purchase that you immediately realize are disposable?
comments? please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org